Written by Ben Aaronovitch, this is as post Miéville and Gaiman (in particular Neverwhere and King Rat/Un Lun Dun) as any Miéville and Gaiman fan could want.
The story concerns a new constable who discovers that he’s got a bit of magic in him when he meets a ghost who has witnessed a particular horrific (and mysterious) murder in London. There are more books on the way and I presume the whys and wherefores of where he got this magical knack from will be explained in due course.
He encounters the sole representative of the magical branch of the metropolitan police force (whom, after seeing the BBC’s Sherlock, I couldn’t help but picture as Benedict Cumberbatch), and is soon working away in full apprentice mode while the murders and other odd happenings continue.
There’s a great sense of humour throughout the book, some sharp repartee, and a few very self aware references to Harry Potter and other fantasy stalwarts (I particularly liked the mention of midichlorians:)
I’ve read many novels set in London, but I think this one has paid the most attention to geographical features (non-stop street names – sometimes a bit bewildering), and the social features that go along with them (posh mock-tudors, pebble-dashing, ikea-based gentrification, etc…). Maybe all this explicit work on this stuff feels a bit artificial at times, but it does a great job of communicating place. This is very definitely a ‘London’ novel.
Needless to say, anthropomorphic personifications start popping up all over the place. They’re well done, though; they feel fresh and exciting and not bound up in old stereotypes. In part this is due to Aaronovitch’s refreshing appreciation of race and culture (cf Harry Potter).
A rip roaring read. I finished it in a day.